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1862 Civil War exhibit comes to life at museum

A little girl holds on to her dad as his wife and son watch him enlist to go away to war.

The South Boston-Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts and History has displayed an exhibit capturing a time in Civil War history that changed families forever.

The exhibit, 1862, focuses on the recruiting time during the Civil War featuring a recruitment station with a family. As one walks into the hall entering the display, one “can be taken back into history.”

According to Museum Executive Director Beth Coates, the museum and the display committee wanted the exhibit to look as real as possible.

“The display committee did a great job of putting all of this together,” said Coates. “We wanted to portray that it wasn’t a glamorous time like they sometimes show in the movies.” 

Coates also acknowledged Jackie Smoot who made all of the outfits for the display, except the soldier, which the museum ordered.

“She doesn’t go by a pattern or anything, she just looks at the mannequin and makes the clothes. She does a wonderful job,” said Coates.

The exhibit also has a glass case of items from war times including a Springfield Pistol Model 1856 on loan from Bob Keith and on the wall a timeline of history as well as a list of names with the Confederate units of men who enlisted from parts of Halifax County.

The museum held a presentation Thursday about the enlistment process in Virginia. The speaker was Appomattox Court House Park Ranger Chris Bingham who wore living history attire and emphasized recruitment in Southside Virginia. 

Those who couldn’t attend the presentation are invited to stop by the museum Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to see the recreated enlistment station and read the enrollment lists of Halifax County to find relatives.

“We want people to walk away saying “wow” like they just stepped back into history,” said Coates.

The 1862 exhibit featuring the recruitment station and other Civil War artifacts will be on display until the end of the year.

Coates said the museum’s gift shop has several books about the Civil War, and those wishing to know more can make an appointment with James Sheppard in the research center to look up family history.

For more information, contact the museum at 572-9200.